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384: Fill Those Hygiene Holes!

Is your practice coming up on its hygiene cycle, where routine care is jam-packing the schedule? Kiera and Tiffanie trade tips on how offices can spread out the love of busy times so September, October, and November aren’t so empty.

Tiffanie shares specific items to add to your to-do list:

  • Hit up your recare and reactivation lists

  • What verbiage to use to get patients to actually call you back

  • How many calls are normal for your practice to make to those recare/reactivation folks

  • How offices with not as many hygiene spots can manage

This episode will not only help you be more prepared for the goings-on in your practice TODAY, but also in the FUTURE!

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Podcast Transcript:

Kiera Dent:

Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Dental A Team Podcast. I'm your host Kiera Dent. And I had this crazy idea that maybe I could combine a doctor and a team member's perspective because let's face it, dentistry can be a challenging profession with those two perspectives. I've been a dental assistant, treatment coordinator, scheduler, office manager, regional manager, practice owner and I have a team of traveling consultants where we have traveled to over 165 different offices coaching teams. Yep, we don't just understand you, we are you.

            Our mission is to positively impact the world of dental. And I believe that this podcast is the greatest way I could help elevate teams, grow VIP experiences, reduce stress and create A teams. Welcome to the Dental A Team Podcast.

            Hey Dental A Team listeners, this is Kiera and this is an epic podcast to say the least. I am co-casting, it's true story, with Brittany and Tiffanie. We are headed up to our company retreat in South Lake, Tahoe and we are so pumped and I did tell them, "Hey, we've got some podcasting time, so let's podcast." So I'm bringing onto the show today, the one and only Tiffanie Trader. Tiff, how are you today?

Tiffanie Trader:

I am so good. Kiera, how are you?

Kiera Dent:

I know. Pretty great. Thanks for asking. So Tiff, we've got a pretty fun topic today, especially with the COVID. I feel like it's the COVID everybody says it's the COVID but this is definitely something coming up with those cancellations and hygiene holes. So kick it off for us today.

Tiffanie Trader:

I thought it would be fun to talk about just preparation. Because I feel like this year, our theme has been, be prepared and stop reacting to everything but be more prepared in life. So I thought now we are a year out from original COVID shutdowns. And so I know a lot of practices have been dealing with a lot of holes in their hygiene schedule because a year ago was COVID. And I thought, well, why don't we start preparing and start talking about what to do come September, October timeframe when those six months holes come back up again. So one thing that I've started doing in practices, is I've started encouraging my offices to start pushing around their hygiene. I encouraged them to do this last year as well, once we all got back into practice because what happened is we were closed for what? Like six to eight weeks. And so we had two months at least that we didn't have hygiene going at all in most practices across the states.

            And so what happened was we come back end of June, beginning of July timeframe and we got slammed with patients. And what we did instead of pushing them out a little ways is we actually tried to see as many patients as we could and crammed the schedules. So then at the six month mark, come September, October, November timeframe where all of those patients should have been cycling back to their second cleaning. We actually had no one to see because we saw them just for their first one in July, August, September. So one idea that I've had that I've worked with a couple of practices on doing and encouraged them to do, is to shift their perspective on how quickly a patient needs to be back in or how long they can actually wait.

            So any routine care, I know you guys have jam-packed schedules again because we're coming up on the June, July, August timeframe where all of our schedules got patched. So your schedulers are going to be heavy again. And I encourage these offices to start seeing their six month recares, maybe a little bit further out to help buffer that schedule for that September, October timeframe and still leave room in your schedules for your new patients. One thing that I've been seeing as a recurring theme recently, is that offices are so heavy with their recare recovering from COVID and jam packing that schedule. Our offices are so heavy with recare right now that they're actually struggling to get new patients in, even though they still want to see new patients. But then we're at the point where we're like, "But do we hire another hygienist because September, October timeframe is going to come where we're going to be light again."

            So I've been working with a lot of schedules on really pushing those six month recares around as much as we can. So maybe seeing patients in sooner, if they needed to be in December or pushing them a little bit further instead of six months, maybe we're doing like six and a half months or seven months or the patients who didn't pre schedule their recare, who are now calling and saying, "I need to get in for my cleaning or I'm due in two weeks. I need to get scheduled." Maybe instead of cramming our schedule full, making sure we're leaving those blocks open for those new patients in our schedule. And we're pushing those recares out just a little bit to help buffer our schedule, come the times of need.

Kiera Dent:

I really love that idea Tiff, because I think it's being proactive versus reactive, which I think you did really, really well. And in addition to that, something else that I think that you just beautifully explained is, let's prepare for the future versus living for today only. Thinking smarter because we know those new patients will be coming in. If our marketing is doing well, if our pieces are going really well, then we're actually going to fill that schedule with those new patients. I also think it's a really, really good time for us to be hitting those recare reactivation lists and making sure that we're proactively calling these patients in because a lot of them, I know, just skip their cleanings because it was COVID. And so they just said, "We're not even going to come in right now. Let's just skip those." So Tiff, what are some suggestions or verbiage that you're having offices do to call on those recare and reactivation lists?

Tiffanie Trader:

I think that's a great point to make. And as you're speaking, I'm thinking of a practice I was just in, who's afraid to make recare calls right now because their hygiene schedule is full. So they're like, "Well, one, we don't need to make calls. We only make calls when we need to." That's not true. "And two, where are we going to put them because we're so full?" Well, those are the patients that we're calling and we're saying, "Fantastic. I'm super excited to get you into the schedule. My soonest available appointment for your cleaning is August 15th." And we're like, "But wait, it's only almost in June. I totally get it, but we've got these reservations." So when is your next soonest recare appointment for the patients that didn't schedule before? Some verbiage that I love to use. Number one on your voicemails, be as short as possible.

            Nobody likes listening to a lengthy voicemail. First of all, I don't even check my voicemails half the time. So valid statement right there. So don't leave me a long voicemail. If you are going to leave me a voicemail, just cut it short, keep it simple and then follow it up with a text. I typically just say something like, "Hey Kiera, this is Tiffanie with the Dental A Team dental office. Just calling super excited to chat with you. I just needed to talk with you about your account. If you can please give me a quick call back, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks." And then I just follow it up with a text message that says the same thing. Hey Kiera, it's Tiffany with Dental A Team dental office, calling to chat with you real quick about your account. Please give me a call back.

Kiera Dent:

Hey, everyone. It's Kiera and today's episode is brought to you by Swell. I don't know if you know about Swell but you should know about Swell because they do getting Google reviews so well. That's why they're called Swell. I have worked with Swell for the last couple of years, testing them out on practices before I shared them with the world. And you guys Swell is one of those companies that literally will help your practice grow through Google reviews. I've had offices get 110 Google reviews in their first month of using Swell. I've had offices get 35, 65, 45, 50 you name it, Swell is amazing. And they get it month over month over month. So go check them out, swellcx.com. Be sure to tell them that the Dental A Team sent you. Make sure you get our Dental A Team family pricing with Swell. You will not regret it. Swell does Google reviews so well. Thank you Swell. And all of you go check them out. I know you'll love them.

Tiffanie Trader:

So voicemail and text message typically, one of those will get a return. I did just speak with a practice not that long ago, we implemented this back in March in their practice and they've actually seen a drastic increase on the amount of return phone calls that they're getting. Their biggest fear about this, which is something I come across all the time, is that patients would be upset because I'm saying I'm calling regarding your account and nobody likes it when patients call angry. So most practices will tell me, "Oh my gosh, you're crazy." And this practice did in March. They said, "Oh my gosh, you're crazy. There's no way. They're going to be so angry." And I said, "Please just try it with me." So they tried it out and they actually found that the amount of phone calls they received back increased substantially and they were able to diffuse any situations that were heightened energy.

            And they really said that it didn't come across very often. So their patients weren't calling upset. They were just calling to say, "Hey, just checking back in. I got a call regarding my account. Want to make sure everything's okay." Most of the time people are pretty laid back. If you're calling sounding like a robot and you're leaving a voicemail, that sounds like threatening about an account, absolutely. But if you're like, "Hey, I need to just chat with real quick about your account. Please give me a call right back." It's not threatening. It's not scary. So what you put out there is what you're going to get. If you're afraid to say it and you're putting fear into your voice and into your words, then you're going to get fear coming back in.

            For scheduling further out we just want to continue to say like, "Great, absolutely. Let's get you in the schedule for your appointment. Let's slide you in here. My soonest available is this." If it's too far, they want to come in sooner, say, "Fantastic. I totally understand. I'd love to get you in sooner. What I'm going to do is I'm going to slide you into this slot for right now. It is my soonest available. And then what I'll do is I'm going to put you on my priority call list. And if I get a change in my schedule or I'm able to finagle anything for you, you're going to be one of the first people I called to take that slot."

Kiera Dent:

I love that verbiage so much Tiff. And we have podcasted about this quite a few times. Tiff, I think we're coming up on four years that we've worked together. So I know this isn't the first time people are probably hearing this. And if it is, welcome to the Dental A Team podcast, we're super, super happy to have you here. And Tiff, I know the office that you're talking about, where we were asking them to just try this verbiage out, they were so scared, small town and they were really, really afraid of what was going to happen. But at the end of the day, patients started calling back. And like you said, if it's got that high energy, upbeat tone to it, it doesn't feel threatening. It doesn't feel scary. They're definitely going to want to give you a call back.

            So I really, really loved that verbiage. And I would say for all of you, something that Tiffanie you brought up that I really liked this thought process on is, we don't just make phone calls when our schedule is empty. We're continually making them. So Tiff, I know in your last practice that you were managing, you had a really substantial number of calls that you required your team to make. Can you just dive into how many calls is pretty standard to be making every single day, every single week? Just so people have a benchmark that they can gauge themselves on.

Tiffanie Trader:

Yeah, absolutely. And you're totally right. My girls made a ton of calls and we just weren't afraid of it anymore. You get to a certain point where it's just a piece of your job. It can be daunting or scary or seem annoying that it's a piece of your job. And so you actually tend to do it less. You tend to hold off on it. And that's what makes it the annoying piece. So the more we did it, the more comfortable we got and we found that most people don't hate getting the phone calls. And most people don't hate coming into see you when they get those phone calls. So my practice we made, literally each person in my office was making hundreds of phone calls a week. We called everyone all the time until they called back. So my motto, when I see practices and when I'm coaching practices is call them until they call back.

            So whether they're calling back to say, "Absolutely fantastic, let's get me on the schedule." Or they're calling to say, "Hey, I moved and I totally forgot to call you. I actually, haven't been in the area in over a year." "Wonderful, where can I send your information? I'm going to inactivate your account. So you don't keep getting calls from us. I'm so glad that you called back." But if you don't call enough, it's going to continue to slip their minds. You have to call and text, follow up with text messages enough that they call back. So keep calling until they call you back. There's no like magic number except to say it's a lot.

Kiera Dent:

I love that so much because when you say that Tiff, you keep calling until you get told to stop calling or they update. And its not in an annoying way, I think I came to a realization in a practice when I realized, it might feel like a lot of calls to us because we're putting out a hundred calls but we have to remember that patient is not getting a hundred phone calls to them. Well, we're just putting a lot out. So we might feel as if we're making a lot of calls, which you are, you have a lot of patients, you should be making a lot of phone calls that way they're coming back in. And so I think that it's beautiful that you just brought that up. That's what your team did. That's how you guys were able to stay on top of your patients, keep a very healthy, active recare.

            And we're not just calling for the sake of calling. We're actually calling with an intention and a purpose and making lots and lots of phone calls. Just the goal is to get them to update their account, to come in, to schedule. That's what we're doing as the highest VIP patient care. And I think when you change it into that mindset, that's when it doesn't feel as daunting or as draining as it might. If it feels like, "Oh, this is a terrible part of my job." So I love that. I think that you guys definitely... Like you said, Tiffanie, having people schedule further out, making sure that they are, I guess, filling our schedules, proactively looking for that and then making sure that we just keep calling, calling a lot. I love the verbiage that you just laid out there of, here's the phone call, follow it up with the text message. Most people look at their text messages.

            I know there's so many different ways to do this. My last question for you, Tiff, as we wrap up is, I am super curious. What happens if a practice doesn't have a hefty recare list? So maybe they're a few for service practice. Maybe they are a lot of pedo offices. They don't necessarily have as many new patient flows. What would you do for an office that maybe doesn't have as many hygiene patients or they have reached out to them? They feel like they're just calling these people constantly. Any suggestions for that practice?

Tiffanie Trader:

Number one, I'd say switch to the account verbiage. If you think that you're just calling a million times or you've reached out to these people so many times and they still haven't called back, try the account verbiage. I swear to you, it works almost every time. So if you do have calls, you're making them, you feel like you're recycling them too much. Start just leaving shorter messages and don't tell them the reason that you're calling. They won't call back if they know it's just to schedule their cleaning. So number one, I would do that. Number two, if you don't have a lot of recare to call fantastic, great job. I'm super excited for you because that tells me that you proactively scheduled your patients before they ever left your practice. We love to see that and they actually kept the appointments.

            So a lot of patients will end up on the recare list because something came about and they miss their appointment or they had to cancel it. So if you don't have a healthy or a large amount of recare calls to be making, there are other calls to make us well, you can do unscheduled treatment calls. You can do just followups. I love when practices just follow up, check your SRP's, your most recent deep cleanings that have been in your practice or today to one year ago who was seen for scaling and root cleaning and maybe hasn't been seen for their periodontal maintenance. A lot of programs out there won't shift them to a correct reactivation without you going in and doing it manually. So if they had the SRP done and no one switched their recare to be sooner, they're not populating on the correct list.

            And many practice management softwares out there. If you click one wrong button, I won't say which practice management software it is, but there's one in specific that if you push no, when you make a new patient appointment that says, do you want to set them up on continuing care? If you press, no, they actually never get on automatically onto a recare populated list. You have to go in and manually do it. So there are a lot of patients who actually just aren't on those lists for the fact that we clicked the wrong button when we put them in there or it just got missed somehow. So go back through, look and see who had SRPs, make sure their follow-up on their perio-maintenances are correct. And then also what new patients came into your practice that didn't come through hygiene.

            There are a ton of new patients. There's a ton of emergency exams limiteds that come through on the doctor's side, that are never seen for recare. I have seen this countless times they'll come in, have a broken tooth. We do the crown on them and then they're gone until another tooth breaks because they're not proactively coming up on our recare lists. So pull all of that stuff. Pull anyone who's had a SRP done in the last year and make sure they're on the right continuing care. Make sure they've been seen and are on the scheduled to be seen again. And then pull any patients who we're seeing just as emergencies or maybe a comp exam, new patient on doctors side but didn't actually make it over to recare. More often than not, those patients are not on any kind of recare follow-up system because it just doesn't go on the system that way, when they're scheduled on the doctor's side, in most cases.

            And then your unscheduled treatments. So what patients are out there who maybe didn't get a prophy because they needed SRP and they needed this deep cleaning. They needed the 4246, whatever the heck the new code is. They needed a debridement. They needed all of these things and maybe they didn't accept treatment while they were in the practice. And then they just got left behind because now their continuing care is null and void. They don't have anything to continue because they didn't have anything done in the first place. So I would check all of those areas and start building your own recare list.

Kiera Dent:

I think that that is so 2.0 level, Tiff. Way to level everybody up on that because there are so many things and I think people forget all these other little opportunities of like, "Well, we've already checked our recare list. We already have this down. We're already making our calls." And you just 2.0, this situation. So I love that you just brought that up. I was also going to say, you guys couldn't call when you get people on the phone, you can also say, "What other family members can we get scheduled for you today? Who else could we schedule for you?" So there's a lot of different ways you could even get more new patients into your practice. I think it's really thinking outside the box, looking proactively, like you mentioned Tiffanie. And then also acting. Consistently acting versus it feeling like, "Oh, we only do recare when our schedule is down." And Tiff, I love that you brought this up of, even if we have full schedules, let's keep calling, getting people onto the schedules where they're at because we don't know what it will look like later on.

            We might as well be keeping those patients in the schedule. I'd rather have a too full hygiene schedule and hire more hygienists, expand our hours, expand out or cut insurances versus not be actively staying on top of our recare. So Tiff, as always, I just appreciate you so much. I love what you do. I love you going to our offices. You guys, Tiffany helps so many offices through the Dental A Team, through her consulting. So reach out you guys. We'd love to help you. We'd love going to our offices. And Tiff, as always. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today.

Tiffanie Trader:

Thank you so much for co-casting with me. I always love it when we get to do this.

Kiera Dent:

Same. It's kind of like weird and awesome that we're in the exact same space, sharing a microphone as we drive down the freeway. So you guys as always, thank you so much for listening and we'll catch you next time on the Dental A Team Podcast. And that wraps it up for another episode of the Dental A Team Podcast. Thank you so much for listening and we'll talk to you next time.

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